You get better value with the DUP!


Courtesy of a reader, my attention has been drawn to the latest Newtownards Chronicle, which, like many local papers across the North, is a treasure trove of fascinating stories. We shall turn to one of the Strangford constituency’s newly elected DUP MLAs, the youthful Simon Hamilton, who manages two appearances. He is lambasted in the letters page for an intervention he had apparently made in the previous week’s paper, denouncing the plastering up of Combat 18 stickers on lampposts in Comber. Simon, who, let’s not forget, represents a party founded on sectarianism, seems to have done some pontificating about how bad it would be if racism and fascism made an appearance in Norn Iron.

This has aroused the fury of a reader, who writes to take issue with Simon and to argue that it isn’t racist to want to keep the nig-nogs out of Ulster. Of course, the correspondent doesn’t put it so bluntly. He waffles a lot in peace process language about ethnicity and culture and the rights of the indigenous populace. A nice reminder that there are folks in the Six Counties who make the DUP look positively progressive.

Anyway, this is to be counterposed with the lead story in the Chronicle, which relates to the DUP advice centre in Comber. Or rather, both of them – not only is Simon taking over the existing centre, but his constituency colleague, Michelle McIlveen, is opening one up across the street. And I mean, literally across the street, mere feet away. If you’re in the Comber area, swing by for a quick look, because it really has to be seen to be believed. What has a little town whose population doesn’t even reach five figures, and not many problems barring low-level anti-social behaviour, done to deserve not one but two DUP offices?

What’s even more curious is that neither Simon nor Michelle is a Comber native. Both have their council seats in Newtownards town. Moreover, with the other two DUP MLAs, Iris Robinson and Jim Shannon, running offices around the corner from each other in Newtownards, one suspects better planning could have been done. The Ards Peninsula, where there are many DUP supporters and where Jim Shannon has his council seat, has no party office. Nor has the Castlereagh end, where Iris is a councillor. Nor has Killyleagh, although Iris does the odd surgery there. Nor has Donaghadee. And apparently it is beyond Simon and Michelle to share an office. It really is quite odd. There are of course persistent rumours of infighting in Strangford DUP, but this is ridiculous.

All four of these MLAs, of course, are councillors, and Iris is a Westminster MP. The Chronicle estimates these offices will cost something like £48,000 a year each to run. Maybe our new and parsimonious finance minister, Peter Robinson, could have a look at the matter.


  1. Ciarán said,

    May 1, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    …the rights of the indigenous populace…

    Oh, this has got to be a joke. I wonder how the writer in question would react if he were asked his feelings on an Irish Language Act (though I can’t help but think that he’d consider it as foreign as Polish or Chinese).

  2. Cybez said,

    May 1, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    It’d be interesting to find out what the real reason for these offices so close together is.
    I’ll be reading more than the court appearances in the Chronicle on Thurs – thnx 🙂

  3. WorldbyStorm said,

    May 1, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    It is scary to reflect on how the spectrum continues waaaay beyond the DUP… Fair dues though (not words I thought I’d be writing soon) to even one DUP member who finds C18 wrong. Now, if he can draw a few lessons…

  4. Cybez said,

    May 2, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    The 2 offices were mentioned on BBC Newsline this evening.I reckon we haven’t heard the last of this.

  5. splinteredsunrise said,

    May 6, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Having just looked at the latest Chronicle, I notice a couple of letters on the DUP offices, and one taking issue with the racist from last week. Plus a front page on an anti-Lithuanian race riot in Comber last Sunday. Hamilton pops up to condemn the drunks responsible… I hope I’m not starting to warm to the guy.

  6. May 15, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    […] affirmative action for our political class. It also sheds a rather different light on the DUP’s two offices in Comber, given the joint statement from Hamilton and McIlveen that party policy was to claim […]

  7. Bowden Wellbeloved said,

    July 23, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Simon Hamilton is from Comber. He was born and raised in the town. Get your facts right.

  8. splinteredsunrise said,

    July 23, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Perhaps so. But he’s a councillor for Ards town, as is McIlveen. One DUP office in Comber would be reasonable, but two starts to look like extravagance.

  9. Sammy said,

    August 14, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Donaghadee is not within the Strangford Constituency. It is within North Down and it does have a DUP advice centre. Get your facts straight.
    They are under no obligation to have an advice centre at all.

  10. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 14, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    On consulting the maps, it seems that Donaghadee did in fact move from Strangford to North Down in 1997. I haven’t been there in years, so I’ll take your word about the advice centre. Although how that impacts on the extravagance of two (2) advice centres in Comber, literally feet away from each other – let’s say that with four MLAs you could get a better geographical spread.

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